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The two or three overpriced subs, that vastly run over budget, we can afford but can’t get enough crew for won’t make a difference. In the event of any sort of conflict with our track record of carriers that don’t work, have any planes or air defence capability, Trident that doesn’t work and personnel leaving in droves due to overwork and underpay and under appreciated. Any serious future conflict we would get a pants down thrashing in very short order and after every defence contractor and lobbyist has lined their pockets en route should hang their heads in shame.

I remember in 2010 when I was in the Navy, an admiral visited our ship, HMS Cumberland, on yet another pointless deployment and took open questions in the SR mess. He listened to our collective gripes over pay, conditions, family time, rebalancing lives etc. Then he told us if we didn’t like it we should put our notice in and he would expedite our leaving as the Navy wanted to trim down and loose people anyway, which made us all feel very valued indeed. Hopefully that arrogant, jumped up, out of touch with reality admiral has left to his lifetime admirals pay and now lives in the clouds where he worked.

Treat the people protecting the country better, stop throwing money at Babcock, BAE, Thales etc, stop paying £1.50 for a floor cloth, or £173 for a bolt for the 4.5 gun from Babcock that can be bought at Screwfix for pennies because some back handers have tied the Navy into some dodgy supply contract, then maybe when WW3 arrives we will have some staff left and will have a fighting chance.

Chris Mallinson

Spot on ,enough is enough


I’ve seen this post before! Presumably fake.


No, I was there as well, I remember it well.


• Lots of false claims, eg “carriers that don’t work”
• A story about an Admiral’s visit that’s been posted several times before
• Allegations of corruption without proof
• Basic English errors “loose people”, “… and … and … and …”, “4.5 gun”, etc.

Can’t take this seriously.

Supportive Bloke

The idea of an HFSG tensile steel bolt being replaced it with a Grade 8.8 or mild steel (more likely) just because ScrewFix have the right size….disaster beckons with that knowledge level.


Suprised he didn’t suggest using a nail and bashing the end over by 90 degrees to secure it in place.



No…I couldn’t possibly discuss some of the ingenious fixes used to keep a 4.5 firing…

Supportive Bloke

Was that before The Duty Holder scheme came into place?

I can’t see anyone signing off on a bodge except in a hot situation where the ship or other forces were at risk…..


I dread to think, thought hopefully this would be while on deployment though and not while dry-docked for a LIFEX/refit…


As usual for you. It’s probably Putin himself or some other Russian agent.


He could be American, given his English is so poor…


Still much better than you being delusional


A third alias in addition to Alf and Bob I see. It’s funny, I don’t even recall conversing with you, but you seem to have made it your life mission to attempt to insult me. How sad and pitiful.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sean
Robert Blay

Why let the truth get in the way of a good dit.

Last edited 4 months ago by Robert Blay
David MacDonald

Whatever the unknown admiral may or may not have said his quoted words were correct that those (men or women, officers or sailors, ethnic minority or not, married or single) who are not prepared to go to sea, regularly and often for many months at a time, should leave. I had this issue with a very small minority of my staff when I was a WEO and that is what I told them. I understand that this can be a huge problem for some after marriage but, if it is to be otherwise, what is the point of the Royal Navy?

Last edited 4 months ago by David MacDonald
Mark Tucker

I suppose there there is always the solution proposed by start trek. Enlist the wife and children of service personnel and send the whole family to sea.

Would it work in the real world? Don’t know, but one thing is certain, we need to start doing something different.


“…and after every defence contractor and lobbyist has lined their pockets en route should hang their heads in shame”.

Almost agree, but I’d prefer just hang. Full stop.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard

Ah, yes. Those loose people. Better grab a screwdriver quick!


Some very interesting developments in recent years in Sub-sea ROV technology with ocean floor med term stacking, recharging docking stations, remote comms / piloting and the like. …still to see the oxy-gum of marine boy fame however

Billy Baker

Interesting to see the T32 getting a mention in the graphic.

Mark P

I thought that too. Just something else for Labour to scrap I guess?


If Labour starts fighting itself we may be stuck with the Tories following last night’s election

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Labour actually like projects that involve ‘metal bashing’ so some of them may get built.

Tories like to think there is a ‘clever cheaper solution’ to every problem.

Both are an utter shower.


The thin pinstriped line has carried out a very good analysis on the defence budget. My take is that there will have to be some cuts after the election.

It would be nice for the current government to own it.


They used the T31 silhouette as a substitute as well, which is quite a big nudge towards Babcock with their stretched T32 (Which is basically the middle of a T26 and the front and back of AH140).
I think a whole T3X series could go forwards from this, like the Italian PPA series, with a “light” version that is effectively an (albeit very large) OPV with 1 57 and 1 40, a “light+” with Sea Venom and CAMM, the “Full” in the current config and T32 mission bay large MCMV.
You’d end up with commonality of parts, for more sea days, an expansion of the fleet with more powerful “patrol frigates” and better taskings for the T26 because they don’t need to do patrol and standing taskings outside ASW.


This ^^^^ is spot on from where I am sitting.

I have never bought the idea that the Type 32, as such, was needed at all. Certainly it would add considerable cost as a new, clean sheet design, and for what? 5 ships? So now you would have three (3) different types spread among a maximum of just 19 frigates for the entire fleet? Doesn’t make sense. Look at what the USN does with the Arleigh Burke class destroyers.

No, what the RN needs is numerous T31s to flesh out its numbers. Well, unless they want to do what they should have done 20 years ago and build around a dozen heavy corvettes-sloops-light frigates. But if that’s off the table, then surely more T31s are the way to go. These would take advantage of economies of scale as more units are built, and maintenance for the whole class would be greatly streamlined and far cheaper. Even with variants or sub-classes (for example a UUV platform instead of the T32), there would be far more parts and pieces in common among the ships than not.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I think the ship that replaced for T42 should have replaced T23 too. On the same drumbeat as T45 construction we would have 8 or so extra hulls.


They did start construction on the T26 as replacement of the T23, just 6 or 7 years late and BAE prices thanks to the Torys defence cuts in 2010- and there forever quicker-cheaper mantra which produces the opposite

Whale Island Zoo Keeper


Supportive Bloke

T26B2 at £850m a copy isn’t that expensive compared to anything else if that equipment level. In fact I’d say it was good value.

You have a very expensive propulsion system, expensive main gun, Mk41 VLS, Sea Ceptor and a large quiet hull optimised for ASW.

I’d accept the delay in getting T26 into build has costs billions in LIFEX and extending supply chains contracted for 18 years…..


Thats for the final 5 – after Babcock were in the game- the first 3 in 2017 contract was for £ 3.7 bill was £1.33 bill each
Plus there was an earlier development contract for BAE in 2009 and 2015 (£850 mill)
To me thats roughly £9 bill for 8 ships or £1.125 bill each double the Babcock ‘marquee’ price


Babcock’s entry (well, concept, but it’s quite detailed) for T32 is essentially the same design hull-wise, but with about 2m added around the hangar/funnel area to increase the size of the hangar and boat bays. That then clears up room to put a mission bay instead of VLS amidships (2xmk41 replace B turret) almost identical to T26.
The final change is that a stern ramp provides sea access to the under-flight deck mission space for MCM kit and XLUUVs like CETUS.
Hardly a clean sheet design and will use much the same equipment as T31 and T26, while replacing/augmenting MCM and providing some new capability
Babcock showcases Arrowhead 140 Multi-Role Naval Platform concept with view to Type 32 frigate competition | Navy Lookout

Last edited 4 months ago by SailorBoy

That’s a hopeful sign. If your analysis is correct, it almost sounds like the T32 is a near-variant of the T31. I still say a T31 “Batch 2” makes more sense, but I could live with this approach, too, as long as more hulls go into the water from somewhere. By that I mean, more major warship and submarine hulls.


I think you’re reading too much into the silhouette of the Type 32. The caption says the diagram is a “basic overview”.


Looking at the vessels commissioned in the Russian navy since 2000, aside from the replacement of their SSBN force, the vast majority are either corvettes or SSK/SSGN.
Corvettes are really for littoral waters rather than ocean going vessels.
So Russia clearly sees submarines as its primary future offensive force. It also favours larger numbers of cheap conventional submarines over fewer high-end SSNs.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sean

I wouldn’t necessarily say that the Russians favour SSK’s over SSN’s. SSK’s are considerably cheaper (roughly 3-1) and quicker to build than SSN’s. The sanctions imposed on Russia due to the war is also having a significant impact on their ability to build new vessels.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Russia is a land power. It’s maritme defence is based on sea denial. Sea denial is a defensive posture. SSN’s are only offensive if there is a surface force followning on behind them.

How are the sanctions impacting their ability to build new hulls? They have all the material they need. They can produce nearly most of what they need and get anything else through China and India.


Yes cheers for the info, am actually aware of the fact that Russia is a land power. Am also very aware of the difference between Sea denial and Sea control. Neither of which I mentioned, only the fact that Russia wasnt favouring SSK build over effectively Nuclear SMs (should perhaps have worded it as Nuc SM instead of SSNs), as they have built 14 I Kilo, 4 Yasen and 7 Borei since 2013. So building what is required to replace older units.

The majority of building was completed pre 2021, as can be seen from the stocks of reserve equipment (tanks /APC etc) that the Russians are having to resort to. Include the lack of replacement aircraft/helicopters, and munitions, then I would say that currently sanctions are impacting on their abilities to build new. They are undoubtedly getting some equipment/munitions from China/Iran/NK and India, but not nearly enough just yet. Then again, neither is the Ukraine currently.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Thank you. 🙂

Last edited 4 months ago by Whale Island Zoo Keeper

They haven’t commissioned an SSN since 2000 (Gepard), the others SSNs in service all date from the 1990s. That was 14 years before sanctions due to the Crimea invasion. Meanwhile they’ve launched 12 SSKs since 2014.

Yes SSKs are cheaper and less complex, and they’re obviously going for numbers over quality.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sean

Indeed they have, however in the same time scale they have also completed and launched 7 Borei SSBNs and 4 Yasen SSGNs, so, not really favouring SSKs, but building what is required across the board, as all their previous SSKs still in service all date back to the 80/90’s too.


If you reread I said, that aside from having replaced their SSBNs (as Dreadnaught will replace Vanguards in U.K. service), the only submarines they had commissioned were SSGNs (Yasen) and SSKs (Improved Kilo).
All their other SSKs date back to the last millenium as does ALL their SSNs.

Perhaps try reading and comprehending a post before rushing to correct things that weren’t said.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sean

Russia doesnt do vanilla SSN anymore ( as mentioned by D32) nor does USN with its missile enabled Virginias ( China is the same)
Multi role doesnt mean they cant operate as a normal attack sub.


I pointed out originally the last SSN that Russia commissioned was in 2000. Instead they’ve gone big on larger numbers of cheaper platforms, SSKs.

Saying that the USN doesn’t do SSNs anymore is plain wrong. The Virgina’s are SSNs (over 20 launched since 2000) and they (and the Seawolfs) will be succeeded by the SSN(X) project.
You’re confusing SSNs that can fire cruise missiles but whose primary armament is torpedoes, with SSGNs whose primary armament are cruise missiles (such as Ohio class).

Back to Russia, 1 SSN and 4 SSGNs, since 2000 shows that Russia can only afford nuclear for its SSBNs (7 since 2000).
It also shows that Putin regards attack submarines, like tanks and aircraft, as something to be sacrificed in large numbers, so go cheap.


When was the last Virginia launched without VL sub launched missiles silos , and the newest version has even more ( copying Russians with central VPM)

The first VPM sub USS North Dakota keel laid May 2012, previous boats had 12 individual launch tubes making them SSGN as well.

Im not confused, the multi role subs are a feature of Russia and US for 20 years now.
If you think US Navy VPM is only for ‘cruise’ missiles thats because you havent keeping up to date
The Navy will need to award a third contract later this decade to cover the development of a submarine-launched hypersonic missile capability,’
Im sure a future RN SSGN will have the same VPM type features , but 25 years too late


There you go again, proven wrong (as demonstrated by you dropping the use of the term ‘SSN’) and going off on a tangent about hypersonics.

The USS North Dakota (SSN-784), is not an SSGN, as is obvious from the pennant number assigned by the USN. Like all Virginia class submarines, she’s a nuclear fast attack (aka hunter-killer) submarine that also has a missile capability. The VPM adds capabilities, it doesn’t define the primary role of the submarine.
Suggest you look up “primary” in your English to Russian dictionary.

It’s funny how you make predictions of things already announced to try and portray yourself as Nostradamus.
It’s already been announced the RN/RAN next submarine class, the SSN-AUKUS, will feature vertical launch tubes. Given the USN didn’t launch missiles via torpedo tubes it was only a matter of time that the RN switched to avoid the possibility of being left in the lurch as regards missiles.
So yes, the future RN/RAN SSNs will feature vertical launch tubes. But they’ll still be SSNs, not SSGNs.

Still dodging the fact that Russia can only afford to build cheap SSKs and a handful of SSGNs..


The Ohio class conversions only fire VL cruise missiles like their SSN sisters
So what is the new Russian subs VL missile capacity ?

A VPM style vertical tubes mid hull section- which is copied in latest Virginia SSN
The designation is meaningless now like the Zumwalt cruisers called destroyers or the fast frigates called LCS
The capability is important not a couple of letters

Graphic from Covert Shores of latest Russian SSN- Notice the 10 torpedo tubes forward

Last edited 4 months ago by Duker

Having been shown to be wrong in your use of SSN and SSGN designations, you not dismiss the entire designation system completely!

The Virginias have had VLS launch of cruise missiles since Block III, they’re currently building Block V.

Zumwalts aren’t cruisers, they’re destroyers. But you’re completely dismissing surface ship classifications too!!

If you bother to look at the Covert Shores graphic you pasted, it says the Yassen is “Class SSGN”. Yet you still mistakenly call it an “SSN”. Even the sources you quote disagree with you!
So what about the 10 torpedo tubes, the 32 cruise missiles are its primary armament.


G was only used because a few of the US Navy SSBN subs were downgraded from ballistic to cruise missiles ( could still be nuclear)
Doenst mean the Russians call it a cruise miisle submarine.

Everyone recognises the naming of surface vessels no longer follows the usual rules. A ‘cheap light Frigate’ for RN, T31 is almost as big as its premier AAW Destroyer

Peter S

Slightly off topic- USS Boise, a Los Angeles class SSN, is to have a $1.2 b refit that will take until 2029, when it will be 38 years old. It has been inactive since 2015.
UK is not the only country with problems sustaining its nuclear fleet.


This part of the fairly new process where private yard does a sub overhaul which are normally done in Navy yards

HII delivered its first repaired boat, USS Helena (SSN-725), in January of 2022. The second boat, USS Columbus (SSN-762), is set to complete its maintenance period in 2025.

It would seem to me that Boise cant start till Columbus is largely done in 2025. the actual Boise contract was last year, but their congress politics might delay early spending


Surely the Rivers (R1 and R2) could be an useful platform for delivery and control of some deployabel kits? Having them deployed around the world it would be efficient if you could fly some deployable kits (sea bed surveys, mine warfare etc) out to them when needed.


Deployable kits was found to be unworkable when promoted for USN LCS fast frigates. Creating these systems was too hard and at best u unit would stay with the LCS for any deployment or even remain until it was time for a major update.
Luckily the RN dint jump on that fad , except for Crowsnest helicopters AEW and I suspect it will be not interchangeable either in practice.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

The RN is doing what it can with what it has got. The question isn’t technolgoy but as always budget.

For a while I have wonderd about a line of ocean surveillance ships to cover the GIUK gap. Though with the eastern end being more northerly. They could also have a (large volume) air seach radar too. They could be a refuelling base for helicopters from frigates working in the area. Perhaps act as a base for rotory UAV too? These would be lean manned worked on rotation with support via sattelitle link to Northwood.

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Last edited 4 months ago by Whale Island Zoo Keeper
D jackson

I have read many comments some are rot some are valid some hit the nail bang on. But to be honest our island home is not what. It once was governments over the years have failed to support our armed forces not enough of everything second best kit very little of it world class we cannot defend our island and our people unless government starts building kit of high class pay our enlisted personnel a decent living and tell the people the truth that unless we are all prepared to pay for what is needed we don’t have a prayer to defend our nation

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

But what is needed? That’s the question nobody can answer.

4 fleet carriers and 60 escorts? 2 army groups of ground forces? 300 fighters and a wing of heavy bombers? Do we need any of that? Nobody knows.

Last edited 4 months ago by Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Missile, missiles, missiles…

Long range missiles +2000km range and space based targeting systems, like say 50 satellites.
All transport aircraft should be able to fire those missiles.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

No ships? No ground forces?

I agree that the future is platform and munition becoming one.

I agree we need missile batteries here in the UK and OTH radar.

But what else? And how much of it?


What is needed is going to be less than what you get barring a miracle in Parliament. But here are what I consider to be the minimums for a proper UK defence and legitimate presence in the broader world (AUKUS, Mediterranean, etc).

NAVY: 8 DDG, 8 ASW FFG, 8 General Purpose FFG. I would prefer 12 or even 16 general purpose frigates. An alternative would be to stick with 24 major surface warships in the escort fleet and opt for 8-12 “sloops” or corvettes to flesh out the numbers.

Along with this I would expand the RFA in some reasonable way, with precise composition to be determined. Ideally the RFA should be half again as large as it is today, but I would settle for 25% larger.

The QE’s should absolutely have their full intended complement of 36 F-35s. Since this won’t happen, I could live with 24 per ship provided that there was at least a little bit of a reserve to cover combat losses, and that the carriers were fully equipped in every other way, ie defensive systems fully installed, munitions stocks fully provisioned and so on.

The next SSGN class should really number ten (10), but again forget about that. I could live with eight provided that a separate class of perhaps 6 high end SSGK’s was constructed. These would be used primarily for home waters, GIUK, and Mediterranean duties in order to free up the apex predator nuclear boats for blue water and AUKUS duties and so on. (The same rationale would apply to the sloops or corvettes, which would allow for the high end of the fleet to deploy further afield.) New SSGK’s would also fit nicely into the national shipbuilding strategy and there are several UK allies who I believe would be interested in an export version of these boats.

ARMY / GROUND TROOPS: If it were up to me, the Army would never fall below 100,000 active duty troops, and the Royal Marines would never drop under 10,000. I would beef up special forces to another 10,000 and keep the reserves where they are at present.

Although there is concern that the war in Ukraine might signal the obsolescence of the MBT, I don’t think we are there quite yet. In any case the British Army doesn’t have enough tanks. I think this number should be 500 but I would settle for 400 as opposed to the current 250-ish (depending on what source you use). Etc.

RAF: I would add at least four more P-8 Poseidons and two additional full squadrons of F-35s (yes, I’ll settle for one) while continuing with the development of Tempest. As with the other branches, a lot of good can be accomplished simply by keeping adequate fuel and ammunition stocks on hand and generally beefing up training, preparedness and logistics. Air transport should also receive a modest but real upgrade. Say, another 6 heavy transport aircraft.

Again that’s the minimum and not what is truly needed if the UK is really going to be “Global Britain”. But it would be a significant improvement over what you have now, and I don’t think I am suggesting anything crazy here.

Last edited 4 months ago by Will
Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


Yet another very good article by Navy Lookout.

As is rightly pointed out here, the severe threats to the UK’s key strategic interests – in particular to the international power grid and telecoms interconnections – really need to be taken very very seriously.


Coming up with all-new TLA’s – such as UWB, RWVAS; UUV: AUKUS and XXUUV – is all well and good………however it is always essential to ensure that all of these BLT+ (i.e. Bright Leading-edge Technology Plus…) will actually work out in practice…… (note 1)

All of these these latest proposals from DASA – which all seem to me to be nothing more than a long string of TLA’s and fancy designer graphics – have all now come out publicly = but without any of the “hard engineering” being completed first….

It is the engineering that is always needed first = to make any bright idea actually work!


The current RN eldership – none of whom has sufficient grey hairs to have served time in the fleet before November 1989 (not even as Rodger the Cabin Buoy) – all now seem to need reminding that the really really really hard thing to do with any model of a Russian Red October is to even find it in the first place…………… .

That inherent-difficulty is simply because:

  • the deep ocean is a very big place
  • salty water is not at all transparent
  • all submariners are very good at playing hide and seek (and long may H&S be a key part of the Perisher course….)

That game of hide and seek becomes even more difficult when Mr R October goes into EMCOM in wartime conditions: thus denying NATO its radio-direction finding capabilities…………….


As we have already returned to a true Cold War situation – one which hopefully will not get too hot anytime too soon (i.e. all my fingers and toes are all now crossed) – here are some thoughts on sub hunting from an grey-haired “original cold war warrior”.

Russia submarine operations – and indeed their current procurement practices for their “newly built” and “recently upgraded” submarine designs – seem to have very-recently reverted straight back to the old soviet naval practices, one which were first seen by NATO observers about 40 years ago.

Is this, I wonder out loudly to myself…….anything to do with the psychopathic Mr V Putin’s recent threats to go-nuclear if NATo gets more involved???

Their three most-numerous types of Soviet-era subs were always planned to be operated as follows:

  1. Their SSBM’s would linger / lurk in so-called bastions above the Arctic Circle for several months at time. The Russian sub-launched ballistic missiles are extremely long ranged; even more so than Trident (Note. Even Trident having a good day!) Thus their SSBM’s never really needed to swim that far away from their home ports to still be very very effective operationally. Thus, even staying very close to mother Russia, any one of their SSBM’s would still be able to flatten Washington DC (Dead Centre) with a few megaton’s in just over 30 minutes flat. The café in the middle of the Pentagon’s central courtyard used to be called “Ground Zero”. Indeed, one Russian SSBM was designed to “lurk with intent” for so many months out at sea that it even had a hot tub built-in, on-board, for the crew to relax in! (Note 2).
  2. Their SSK’s (conventional powered) would very frequently be used as “slow moving mobile minefields” – and thus be almost impossible to detect at slow speeds: even by a nearby NATO SSN!
  3. Their nuclear-powered SSN’s / SSGN’s would be the only ones regularly venturing out into the Atlantic and Pacific. Their weapon’s fit on-board those boats was all very focused on attacking either USN carrier battle groups and/or the many “Reforger” convoys planned from the US to resupply Europe. Choice of using either torpedo’s (close in) and/or cruise missiles (far out).
  • Therefore the entire soviet naval strategy was all about protecting those lurking SSBM’s in their bastions……… those very quiet protective SSK’s would be lurking close to the SSBM’s – and they would be further supported both by very long range Mr Bear marine patrol aircraft (dropping sonar buoys) and plenty of northern fleet surface ships. Most of the soviet era northern fleet surface fleet had an ASW specialisation = designed to detect incoming NATO SSN’s.
  • I noted above that Russia recently seems to have reverted to this old soviet-era practice.. ….that is “probably” why it has quite-recently “un-mothballed” several long-frozen naval airbases located far up above the Arctic Circle. These would be ideal sites for basing the long-legged Mr Bear on ASW duties: whilst the SSBN’s lurk very quietly in a bastion nearby.

Also well worth remembering that Soviet (i.e. Russian) naval and military tactics always allowed (indeed assumed!) the very early release of smaller tactical nuclear weapons (such as torpedo’s, cruise missiles and depth charges). Think back to the Cuban missile crises, when “The West” (specifically the oxymoron called “US intelligence”) assumed that any war about tiny little Cuba would not go nuclear quickly. We only found out many decades later that lowly Russian officers on and near Cuba – both on land and out at sea – all had their nuclear release keys out of their pockets, and all ready to go……

Thus USN and RN naval doctrine / strategy in the 1980’s was to:

  1. Forward deploy as many surface warships (especially USN carrier battle groups and RN frigate groups) and also most USN/RN SSN’s up into the Arctic Circle: to fight their way into these well-defended bastions protecting the enemy SSBN’s.
  2. Rely on the underwater SOSUS lines, strung out across those few key choke points into the Atlantic, to detect enemy SSN’s that were in transit southbound – ready to attack trans-Atlantic convoys (and then use RAF Nimrod and USN Poseidon to attack them)
  3. Attempt to bottle up in the northern fleet ports any submarines still in there – by using air-dropped mines laid by USAF B52 (Hint. Think back to Haiphong, Vietnam).
  4. Rapidly use nuclear depth charges on any Red October found swimming out in the open ocean.


Accordingly, a few suggestions for the RN in this, the third decade of the 21st century:

  1. It would be exceptionally easy to very quickly increase the RN’s submarine detection capabilities by purchasing some large Arctic (pelagic) fishing trawlers “off the shelf”. Then take off (obviously!) the fishing nets, removing the fishing gear, put on a towed array sonar = then load up the boxes of pre-packaged frozen fish fingers, thus ready for feeding the naval crew on a high-endurance cruise up to see those spectacular northern lights. These ships are cheap to buy, convert and run: and are by definition already coded / classified for the Arctic Sea. These ships would be very very suitable for submarine hunting in those very cold and very rough seas. We used to have something just like this: it was called Newton, pennant number A367. These COTS ships would be exceptionally useful for sanitising the CASD patrol area.
  2. If the RN is to get really very serious about ASW, and, let us be honest here – the Russian sub fleet (SSN and SSBM) must be the biggest single threat the UK homeland now faces – it needs to buy some more Merlin airframes. Hunting Red October was, after all, what Mr Merlin was original designed and built specifically for doing in the late 1980’s. Time to restart that mothballed production line at Yeovil….
  3. Despite what some youngsters (i.e. all those under the age of 55) have just said in their posts directly above, given the now very well-proven effectiveness of the long range naval helicopter(s) in the ASW role, I believe that the traditional frigate is no longer the idea warship platform for sub-hunting…..
  4. In the 21st century, “probably” the right warship type for extended long-range ASW patrols is the LPH (Landing Platform Helicopter). One of these ship’s can carry a complete squadron of large ASW helicopters, all the support gear and many extra crews (required for 24/7 flying). A LPH could be easily fitted with a passive towed sonar array. Thus just one LPH would cover the same sea area as half a dozen conventional frigates – and have a longer unrefuelled range and also be a more stable platform in gale force winds and rough seas (Thus able to launch and recover flying machines in adverse weather). All in all, this ASW LPH role sounds like yet another job for the fleet’s oldest unretired cold war warrior = HMS Argus (or a similar sized rapid “merchie” conversion)


To conclude

Here we have yet another example of MOD – this time the wet-behind-the-ears geeks and boffins usual found hibernating inside their nice and warm DASA laboratories at this time of year – all pinning all of their future hopes (and all of our future prayers) on several completely new and all completely untested ASW technologies… and that is all beiing taken as “gospel” (long before the RN crews even start to get trained up on learning all of these brand-new TLA’s….)

Thus DASA is only now offering the RN = “jam sometime tomorrow: or (more likely) the day after the day after tomorrow (i.e. when the DASA led R&D programme runs late!”)

Sometimes the appliance of violence – using old-fashioned (but very well-proven) ASW detection techniques and then the release of any existing type of underwater weaponry = must be preferable!

regards Peter (irate Taxpayer)

Note 1. The advanced cutting edge technology of a DASA BLT+ is often confused with a very similar TLA, called a BLT (A “Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato” sandwich).

Note 2. Has HMS Vanguard just been fitted out with a new jacuzzi? …..and, if so, does that explain why its recently completed refit in Devonport took over four years and cost us taxpayers more than half a billion quid? Is there something which Navy Lookout’s editor is not telling us……………?


So you are essentially suggesting a return to the Invincible class concept; a heli-orientated light carrier (in this case with Harrier for air defence, maybe Protector?) to carry a load of ASW cabs out in the North Atlantic
As someone with no Navy experience, this seems to make sense and there are a whole load of near-frigate sized aviation ships (smaller than you suggest, but fits the bill) going around:

Both of these would probably fit the bill at the small end, which is probably the best solution. If a frigate hull can take 3 helicopters and a towed array that will be a massive boost to ASW for a ship that will probably never come into contact with surface vessels. I mention Maritime protector because it would provide the long range (effectively MPA) search and also carry SPEAR if necessary for surface stuff (ought to be below radar horizon at launch range).


How about this from ChatGPT (ignore the gun positions they’re gobbledegook):
Detailed Specification for ASW-Oriented Light Aircraft Carrier:
General Characteristics:

  • Length: Approximately 180 meters
  • Beam: Approximately 35 meters
  • Draft: Approximately 8 meters
  • Displacement: Approximately 20,000 tonnes
  • Speed: 25 knots
  • Range: 6,000 nautical miles at cruising speed
  • Endurance: 45 days


  • Primary Gun: 1 x BAE 57mm Mk110 naval gun positioned forward of the bridge, offset to starboard.
  • Close-In Weapon System (CIWS): 1 x BAE 40mm Mk4 CIWS positioned aft of the bridge, offset to port.
  • Anti-Aircraft Missile System: 1 x Sea Ceptor vertical launch system for medium-range air defense.
  • Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Systems: TBD ASW torpedo launchers for engaging submerged threats.

Aviation Facilities:

  • Flight Deck: Equipped with a clear space forward and aft for horizontal UAV launches and upward helicopter operations. Additionally, tie-down points for aircraft.
  • Hangar: Large hangar facility capable of accommodating all aircraft for maintenance, storage, and safety during heavy seas.
  • Aircraft Lifts: Multiple aircraft lifts for rapid movement between flight deck and hangar.

Mission Modules:

  • ASW Module: Equipped with ASW sensors, sonobuoy launchers, and processing systems to detect and track submarines.
  • Helicopter Module: Configured for maintenance, refueling, and storage of Merlin helicopters.
  • UAV Module: Designed to house and maintain Sea Guardian STOL UAVs.

Sensors and Surveillance:

  • Surface Search Radar: Long-range radar system for detecting surface vessels.
  • Air Search Radar: 3D air surveillance radar for detecting and tracking aerial threats.
  • Sonar Systems: Hull-mounted and towed array sonar systems for ASW operations.
  • Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Systems: EO/IR cameras for visual surveillance and reconnaissance.

Communications and Command Systems:

  • Combat Management System (CMS): State-of-the-art CMS for integrated command and control of all onboard systems.
  • Satellite Communication: Secure satellite communication terminals for long-range communication.
  • Data Link Systems: Tactical data links for sharing information with other naval and air assets.

Survivability Features:

  • Armor Protection: Reinforced hull construction and armor plating in critical areas.
  • Damage Control Systems: Advanced damage control systems for rapid response to battle damage and emergencies.
  • Fire Suppression Systems: Automated firefighting systems throughout the ship.

Crew Accommodations and Facilities:

  • Berthing: Comfortable accommodations for crew members, including officers, enlisted personnel, and aviation maintenance technicians.
  • Mess Facilities: Dining facilities capable of serving the entire crew.
  • Medical Facilities: Sickbay equipped to handle medical emergencies and provide basic medical care.


  • Flight Deck: Aft of the primary gun, extending towards the stern, with aircraft lifts and tie-down points for aircraft. A clear space forward and aft allows for horizontal UAV launches and upward helicopter operations.
  • Hangar Deck: Below the flight deck, spanning the length of the ship, with dedicated sections for helicopter maintenance and UAV storage.
  • Mission Module Bays: Adjacent to the hangar deck, housing ASW, helicopter, and UAV modules.
  • Combat Information Center (CIC): Located centrally for optimal command and control.
  • Bridge: Positioned above the flight deck and forward of the primary gun, offset to starboard for commanding views during flight operations.

This detailed specification outlines a compact yet capable ASW-oriented light aircraft carrier optimized for operations in the North Atlantic. It features a robust armament suite, advanced aviation facilities, versatile mission modules, comprehensive sensors and surveillance systems, advanced communications and command systems, survivability features, and crew accommodations.


Sir , this is a Wendys LOL
But we are looking at submarine technologies in this posting


The post included reference to frigates etc, and I had replied to the Irate Taxpayer’s suggestion of a small aircraft carrier or LPH as a purely ASW asset, with towed array and helicopters. I broadened the idea to include Protector STOL as a longer ranged section given the ideas for carrying torpedoes and sonobuoys on them. The general concept would be a bit like the Italian Garibaldi carriers but with UAVs not Harrier and a towed array.
The ChatGPT was a bit of a laugh; I find it interesting to plug “design a warship” into generative AI and see what it comes up with.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Interesting. For a long while now I have thought that the UK built the wrong type of large aviation ship. The UK should have built a LHD like the USS Makin Island; this is GT driven version of the Wasp. The idea being we built upon what we were good at instrad of trolling off into this faintly riddiclous Top Gun-esque fantasy of ‘carrier strike’.

The ship’s typcial air group would be something like:

6 Bravos
8 Junglies
4 Wildcat

4 AEW / ASaC (properly funded and developed Crowesnest)
4 Pingers (or 2 or 0 for additional Junglies or Bravos)

But if needs be Junglies could be exchanged for Pingers. Or 6 Junglies with 2 Wildcat and the Pingers exchanged for more Bravos.

Ships have utility in peace time. But an LHD would have more than a coventional carrier. There are also sitatuations where conflict has yet to break out but a range of options are needed. A class of LPD called have been built at the same time. Enough to allow for one follow to the LHD and one to support RM training in Norway or reinforce the ARG.


I still think we need full carriers for global deployments like CSG21, that can in theory have a theatre-wide impact. My suggestion was for an additional set (3?) of small 10,000 tonne vessels (the “Through-deck frigate to the Invincibles’ “Through-deck cruiser”) for ASW stooging on an oceanic scale. The Americans build LHD because they have full carriers, not despite it; they provide the helicopter “wing” that isn’t carried by their CATOBAR ships. QEs are balanced between the two so full LHA isn’t really necessary.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

The UK doesn’t have the resources.

LHD primary role is amphibious war. Yes they can pivot to sea control but that is an additional role and not the reason why they were constructed.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Sailor Boy and Whale Island Zookeeper

As I pointed out in my first post, one does not really need an expensive “aircraft carrier” design to be able to operate large numbers of helicopters out at sea.

I will also point out that the genesis of the very large (and very expensive) USN/USMC Wasp class can be directly traced back to the SCS ship, which was first proposed by Admiral Zumwalt in the late 1960’s. For a various political reasons within the USN, and also the cancellation of their own VTOL fighter, the SCS (Sea Control Ship ) was never built for the USN itself.

However its very unique and very innovative design certainly caught many people’s eyes. Thus the SCS was widely copied and/or influenced the following:

  • Spanish Navy – Principal de Asturias (by the same US naval architects, Gibbs of NYC, who originally designed the SCS)
  • The Italian Navy’s’ Giuseppe Garibaldi – a great ship spoilt only by naming it after the stripy ice-cream brand!
  • RN Invincible class – three small carriers
  • Then the very-much-larger USMC Tarawa Class (1970’s) and then the Wasp class (late 1980’s) which had a very expensive hybrid design of aircraft carrier “upstairs” and a landing craft “downstairs”.

The disadvantages of providing the traditional through deck – which one needs for fixed wing flying machines, but not for rotary wing flying machines – are several-fold

A traditional aircraft carrier requires:

  • A completely bespoke design (not a COTS merchie)
  • The powerful ship’s engines to be placed amidships, so in the “wrong place for stability”
  • Horrendous expensive – and also space consuming funnel offsets – to get from the engines over to the island
  • The hanger deck to be below the flightdeck; a two-storey configuration which then, in turn, requires the expensive and space consume aircraft lifts
  • Finally an aircraft carrier require a top speed of 30 knots.

However a top speed of, lets say, 20-22 knots will do very nicely for helicopters launching on an LPH. (After all, no need to spoil the door gunner’s new hairstyle!). That reduction in top speed quite dramatically reduces number of ship’s engines needed “downstairs” and also reduces the monthly fuel bill

Therefore – as Jono has just, quite rightly, pointed out (directly below) – simple merchant ship conversions are often idea for the task of being quickly converted into naval LPH’s.

As a reminder. In the 1982 Falklands War, both Stena Byzantium (now HMS Argues) and also Cunard’s Adriatic Causeway were both very successful used as large and also very long range helicopter carriers down to the islands (Note: neither had any operational Harriers on board). Neither ship needed any major modifications.

On smaller scale, one of European Ferries ship’s – which normally crossed the North Sea carrying lorries, did sterling service: with nothing much added except a temporary flght deck welded on the front. that went to war wearing a bright orange paint job!

Thus the “trick” is not to have the very expensive through flight deck – on a ship which is only going to be carrying helicopters!

(Note: In the mid 1980’s, HMS Argus was then specifically developed and converted into a training carrier: so the deck lifts we see today were specifically added in for training purposes. They were added for training both aircrews and deck crews. That conversion, I seem to remember, cost a large “bomb”)

Then, to answer the question about whether smaller ships might work as LPH’s for ASW?

Yes, they might -BUT!

Three or four cabs on board would be very useful for ASW. However the inherent disadvantage with any smaller ship is its lack of stability in rough seas (i.e. for roll and pitch stability and hence enabling continuous 24/7 flight ops).

As the Arctic Ocean is most-likely to be the next underwater battleground with Red October, that capability rather dictates any ASW-LPH ships would be 150-200M long: rather than smaller models (say 100-120m long)

To conclude: thus several smaller, cheap and cheerful LPH ships “merchie conversions” should have many very-useful naval roles in the RN:

  • ASW
  • Littoral strike (especially rapid heliborne “hit-and-runs” by the RMC bootnecks)
  • Patrolling key choke points (Hormuz and Yeman spring to mind)
  • Land attack (using AAC Apaches)
  • Counter piracy (because the aviation can cover huge sea areas)
  • Aviation training (which is a phenomenal proportion of all FAA flying hours)
  • Casualty evacuation and treatment
  • Humanitarian aid delivery

All in all, these cheap LPH’s would give much better overall value for money than the proposed RN Type 32 frigate.

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Thank you.


I have argued for the use of “escort carriers” on this site and UKDJ before. HMS Audacity, the first WW2 escort, was converted from a liner in 5 months to carry 6 fighters.
It wasn’t the greatest carrier; aircraft stored on deck, no Flyco, but it did the job for a further 5 months before being torpedoed by a U-boat.
The later conversions had an actual hangar.
Something like this, with maybe 1 40mm, 4 helicopters and a pair of Protectors would do a reasonable job of finding subs and would be able to patrol chokepoints with relative ease as a specialist “Aviation support ship” that would also do heli training and (potentially) into service trials for UAVs.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I wasn’t going to go down the rabbit hole…………

1) General cargo ships aren’t that common these days. Converting container ships would be more difficult than you would think. Container ships are very good in straight lines, but not very manoeuvrable………

2) Firefighting and fuels and ammuniton handling and so on………

3) Modern helicopters are expensive and a better way to send more to sea is better avaiton facilities in escorts. T26 only having one hangar door tells me the RN don’t quite get this. The RCN back in the day used to operate two Sea Kings from their Tribal classes. The Japanese have operated 4 from a not too sizeable escort.

4) RFA’s are good a home for extra helicopters because RFA’s are miltiary platfoms……………..And the closest ships to the general cargo ships of old.

5) You read too much into Argus’s use an avaition training ship. The MoD trialled operating helicopters form containers, look up Arapaho. This was trialled in RFA Reliant and wasn’t a success. Aircraft are complex systems you can just drop boxes on to any hull and just expect everything to work. As the RN is about to find out with MCM when everybody else is operating from bespoke MCM ships……

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Last edited 4 months ago by Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I don’t think the envisioned ocean surveillance ships would have enough offensive capability to justify either their expense or their likelihood of being sunk in wartime. Seemingly unmanned sensors would do that job better?

Meanwhile, although either:

A through-deck frigate/BAE’s UXV combatant proposal could moonlight as an ASW helicopter base, and/orXLUUVs could fire torpedoes guided by the sensors,In terms of availability of funding I’d lean towards:

Donating the RFA Argus to Ukraine, and rapidly ordering a replacement HMS Ocean-derivative, or the first MRSS, out of the aid budget; including:24+ Merlin helicopters with the new Safran Aneto engines (i.e. +15% range).___

Although the RFA Argus could serve Ukraine as a hospital ship; alternatively, if, by c. 2027, Ukraine was also trained on a new HMS Ocean with a ski jump, 3 T23s with towed arrays, 2 new T31s, and a T45 (to be replaced by a T26 variant with Sylver VLS & CEAFAR from the Hunter class – e.g. HMS Newcastle being accelerated by 6 months and a new Sylver/CEAFAR HMS Bristol following in 2027), and defended by 40+ retired American Harrier IIs upgraded to Mk0 Captor AESA radar and with Meteor, Paveway, & AGM-88 integration – then this would give Ukraine a fleet which, with western reconnaissance and advice, might hold its own against any of the four Russian fleets, and that might blockade or take the Sakhalin and Kuril islands or the Kalingrad enclave (given the currently reduced Russian assets in either area).

(So then Russia would have to reposition a few brigades and aircraft squadrons away from Ukraine to defend their outposts, whereupon the Harriers could be flown to Ukraine and the ships could be kept under Royal Navy command to do diplomatic port visits/ convoying/ escorting/ delivering aid instead).

(Note one does not particularly care whether this is the most efficient possible use of aid money for Ukraine; the point is to synergistically simultaneously support both Ukraine and British shipbuilding).

Last edited 4 months ago by RAN
Whale Island Zoo Keeper

That would be true. They are not combat platforms. And yet other states use the idea.

The Ukraine won’t have coast by mid-summer. My favourite RFA Argus is happy here at home thank you.


There you go again, spreading Russian disinformation that has no basis in reality.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sean

Is RFA Argus that good? I was under the impression that, like too many old ships, it would cost a fortune to keep running, hence much better to give it away and get a purpose-built amphibious warfare ship to replace it?


That would require a huge amount of resources by Ukraine to maintain such a force. Rather than pointlessly blockading insignificant Russian islands, a better use would be intercepting all the tankers that Russian has bought since the war began. Stop Russia’s income from energy exports, and you starve its military of money.


Hrm, a tanker blockade requires rather longer endurance at sea than manoeuvring with intent to attack… but on reflection, I do agree with you. A fleet of 1 new CV, a refitted RFA Argus, 30+ Harriers with AESA etc., 24+ Merlins, 1 T45, 3 T23s, 2 new T31s, and a few CIWS vessels, able to bring Russia’s seaborne oil trade to an end, would be a great card in Ukraine’s hand for the negotiating table in c. 2027-2029…. even if it’s a government in exile by that point.

That in turn seemingly makes the case all the stronger to ditch trying to keep the RFA Argus for the Royal Navy ourselves and instead get a replacement LPH/LPD with two dozen extra improved Merlins to help with the underwater battlespace… or indeed any other battlespace.


Not a blockade, just go hunting – I’m sure NATO will happily supply satellite based intel of Russian tankers leaving port and their subsequent courses.. Intercept them mid-route, thousands of miles from Russia.
Hit them with torpedoes from an undeclared SSK force would keep the Russians guessing.


Freedom of navigation of the seas means going after particulate flag of convenience tankers over their oil is out of the question.
Indias or Chinas navies might come after those ‘pirates’ taking ‘their oil’
US or EU laws on sanctions dont extent past the 12 mile limit – remember the mantra about international laws
Line up for your medal


Spreading more disinformation I see.
There is nothing against the law of the sea in going after tankers flying the flag of your enemy. As per usual you disingenuously try and muddy the facts by talking about flags of convenience.

As for sanctions and 12 mile limits, again complete and utter nonsense as demonstrated by the actions taken against North Korean vessels.


Silly fanatsy falls over the first hurdle of *Ukrainian subs* ROFL

I dont think many of the oil tankers from Russia fly the Russian flag at all, mostly the usual flags of convenience

Flag of Gabon !
but to better inform other readers who have common sense..
‘If your tanker is registered in Panama, your single-ship shell company is a brass-plate address in Liberia, your ship manager is in a shopping mall in India, you’ve got lowly paid crew from the Philippines, call at Russia and discharge at China, and use a dodgy P&I [insurance] company that’s based in the Seychelles…’

North Korea has lawful UN Security council sanctions, same applies to weapons to Yemen. Iran has sanctions but not its oil exports
No such UN Security council sanctions on Russia- a child can work that out

Silly fantasy’s are your speciality
Jingoists are mostly a sack of hammers.

Last edited 4 months ago by Duker

Gabon is being used because Liberia, the Marshall Islands and Panama have come under increased pressure from the West and sanctions applied against tankers flying their flag. Now Gabon’s Transport Minister is saying it will also look at de-listing tankers involved in rogue activity.

Sanctions don’t require the approval of the Security Council – which is impotent while rogue states like Russia and China exercise vetoes. All sanctions enforcement require is power; financial, economic, and military. The west doesn’t lack any of these.


UN based sanctions have force outside a nations territories – thats why its UN.
Otherwise the 12 mile territorial limit – air or sea- is as far as the nato -EU sanctions extend

Which is why Russian oil in tankers flagged from whereever sail unmolested across the seas and though the international straits
Actually its a a major principle in western navies – freedom of navigation- it applies to all including the bad people. Unless the UN decides other wise
Like this high seas boarding

Try using the facts more often

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I should have said more.

Your aviation ship would sit in the middle of an ASW task group. Escorts would be up threat or deployed at a distance on the perimeter away from other ships to give their TAS the best condistions. The helicopters from the aviation ship would support the escorts and their organic air and tackle contacts in the sea within the perimeter. You wouldn’t attach a TAS to the large aviation ship. It may have a HMS. As would other say AAW escorts at the centre of the group.

This is what Invincibles were built for to protect USN CBG’s.


My intention was for this ship to operate largely alone or with a frigate or two, for which it provides the ‘volume’ air wing with good facilities for maintaining helicopters and additionally (optional extra not strictly necessary) STOL UAVs that a frigate cannot provide.
The entire programme would be centred around low cost, with an armament of max 2x 40 mk4 (one astern port, one ahead starboard) and a hangar for maybe 8 aircraft. Basic radar fit out (NS100 probably upper limit, River radar lower limit) and small island with a small lift either side to starboard.
Get them quickly by finding a bulk carrier, RoRo or ferry on the slips somewhere with machinery and accomodation, buy it and tow it to Cammel laird to have a flight deck, hangar installed and painted grey. Rinse and repeat a few times with identical ships and you have a class of 4 or so “aviation support ships” to do basically anything you like.


Australia has 2 and Spain one Doesnt have to be up to Makin Is size
named after
Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Thank you.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

It is a question of mass and utlity. One would humbly suggest a 40k tonne LHD has more……………..

I sometimes think you are a bot.


It could be more aviation focused and less army/amphib than the version built.
Plus the RN still needs the amphib version as additional hull.

As you say below ‘battle group across the beach’ but is never going to happen for RN/RM ever again.
Unload at suitable port facilities is the only option left

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I am trying not to go rabbit holes here. But………

To do anyhting usefule ashore you need to send a battle group across the beach. So a commando (and their vehicles), a battery of arty (be it light guns or heavy mortars), a cavalry element, engineering, logistics etc. You are looking at about 1200 to 1500 bods. Better for outsize cargo like cavalry vehicles and bulldozers are carried away from the main assault platform for reasons. So an LPD would be an advantage too. So 1300 bods will be spread across two platforms. This would allow the UK to fly out another commando as refinforcement if needs be.

So yes a 40k tonne would be the optimum choice. Especially a ship that also has to pivot to other roles such as sea control…………

The UK has built 2 70k tonne carriers. Suggesting that 2/3 40k tonner LHDs should have been built isn’t a stretch. FWIW to save money some of the features that were in the Delta design to make life easier for EMF aboard them were deleted.

Do you think the Juan Carlos is comparable to a Wasp? Do you think before you post?


I never said it was comparable to a Wasp!. Dont play the straw man argument game

Get real the RN/RM doesnt have the hardware/ forces to even use one Wasp – actually superseded by America class

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


I suggest you re-read the article………..

There were only two submarine technologies listed by NL, neither of which are “new” (or BLT+ in the jargon…..):

  • Cruise missiles.
  • Next generation heavyweight torpedo.


  • The Tomahawk cruise was developed in the 1970’s and first went operational in the early 1980’s (hence the huge protests at Greenham Common). First used operationally in anger by the USN during Gulf War (Round One).
  • The UK’s heavyweight torpedo’s was developed in the 1980’s, soon after the Captain of HMS Conqueror said to himself, just after eating his cooked breakfast on the 2nd May 1982 = “None of my modern torpedo’s on board today will do the business properly. Thus I propose to three WW2 era RN torpedo’s on this WW2 era-bruiser I see before me”.…….and hence the General Belgrano – which had survived Pearl Harbour in 1941 – never made it those 200 miles into Port Stanley for a victory celebration with their fellow nationals, the Scrap Metal Collectors.

Accordingly, especially as you are a regular “poster boy” on NL, can I please ask that you make the proper distinction between defensive Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW: which this article on NL was all about), and submarine warfare….. which are essentially almost-always offensive in nature…… This article barely covered offensive operations.

Just because it is “underwater”, that does not automatically make it “a submarine”!

Hence my lengthy narrative was all about how some very-much-needed ASW capability could be, very rapidly, put into place by the RN.

The RN needs that ASW capability “sooner rather than later” = which, quite frankly, the airy-fairy and off-with-the-fairies stuff being proposed by DASA will simply not deliver anytime soon……….

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


How many helos and UAVs on this ship? Any UUVs, also? What about tilt rotors or even maybe propeller driven aircraft? (Just a thought). I like the general concept but would definitely mount at least two or even four CIWS Gatling guns. Much cheaper than missiles and proven effective.


Back in the day which is now far distant, I was crew on an 8500t twin screw cargo liner. This had a range to run from Melbourne to Liverpool round Cape of Good Hope 14000 miles non-stop at 18kn. At the time more modern ships were maybe 10000t twin screw and 21-23kn.
In fact at least one of this type had been taken up as a light carrier in WW2.
These in a modern more fighty guise would make great ASW Cruisers/ small Fleet supply etc for mid Ocean Patrol. These could be built at H&W or Cammel Laird and run off like hot rolls.


UK military engineering in general is really good, and this “system of systems” approach looks very impressive on paper. I don’t know that there is quite enough time to develop and mature the technology in time to include the entire concept in the next generation SSGN, but again it seems to me that the issue becomes numbers at the end of the day. It’s pretty clear that the projected near future RN submarine fleet of 7 “boats” is insufficient, and it would seem doubtful that the 10 or 12 attack submarines that the Navy really needs will be built next time around.

Thus I am wondering if at least some of the emergent technology could be incorporated into high end (but still cheaper than nuclear) AIP or diesel-electric units? Or would the cost of an additional clean sheet design outweigh the savings that would be realized with non-nuclear propulsion and related engineering?

Last edited 4 months ago by Will

An interesting perspective; I was anyway thinking that developing a line of diesel submarines also for export to Ukraine/Taiwan might be financially justifiable?

Of course, there’s such a shortage of SSNs for Aukus that ideally Britain’s submarine building facilities could be doubled-up to get an extra 6+ SSNs for Australia and Britain, so America can keep their Virginia class subs? (A decision might be made next year/President/Parliament).

Otherwise, spending on XLUUVs seems a better choice, given (i) recruitment/retention difficulties and (ii) longer-term rewards and exportability if we’re at the cutting edge for XLUUVs?

Last edited 4 months ago by RAN

Seems to me that the UK has a long and profitable history of selling warships and related equipment to Chile and Brazil, and if I’m not mistaken, also Venezuela in years past. Of those South American nations, Brazil has invested heavily in its own submarine manufacturing center, but that still leaves British ally Chile and any number of other potential customers—though of course Germany has a gigantic footprint around the world in this regard.

Still, Canada will need new submarines before long, and there is no reason that UK shipbuilding couldn’t engineer a world class SSGK design, or more than one, both for RN use and for export.

Last edited 4 months ago by Will

No chance of doubling up on nuclear subs construction in Barrow. Maybe 10 years back it might have been possible for a RAN order for a few extra Astutes. Now out of production and last Astutes just final fitting out and construction for Dreadnoughts well underway plus importantly the newer wider reactor from RR.
Design of a new SSN for RAN/RN probably hasnt started.
This saga isnt over for RAN by a long way, as they are constantly changing and backtracking for all their vessels and major equipment orders.
The destroyer- frigates- OPV future fleet was obviously too ambitious from way back and converting a french nuclear boat design into a SSK was the height of stupidity- technical/nationalism reasons why the obvious of ordering the french nuclear boat now isnt possible.
Forward guessing from me thinks the RAN wont be buying a future UK SSN and they will stick with the nuclear Virginias. Costs and maintenance and crewing will knock the stars out of their eyes or more than 3 such subs.


Design for the new SSN for RN/RAN, the AUKUS submarine has started.
But why let facts spoil your propaganda?


My mistake . You are correct -multi year contract up to 2028 to 3 companies : Rolls Royce, BAE and Babcock

Last edited 4 months ago by Duker

I guess the RAN is thinking that the future Royal Navy nuclear attack submarines would be a bit smaller with smaller crews than the USN Virginia class (cheaper to operate in the long run), but given the existing commonality between AUS and US weapons systems, surely the most direct approach would be to just buy Virginias off the shelf.

Bloke down the pub

One way to rapidly increase asw capability in time of need is to fit ships taken up from trade (stuft) with containerised sonars such as Geospectrum’s TRAPS. TRAPS – Towed Reelable Active Passive Sonar – GeoSpectrum Technologies Inc It would be good to see XV Patrick Blackett trialling such asystem.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Because commercial diesels are so quiet. And the hulls are optimised for evolutions like sprint and drift not………….

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Whale Island Zookeeper

Replying to all of your very many points:

  1. We can both very-easily agree that one of the better ways to quickly generate more ASW capability would be to get more FAA aviation afloat = i.e. to put a few more flying machines out onto RN escorts, where, frankly, I think they best belong. For example, fit the existing FAA Wildcat’s with a dipping sonar (however, that is definitely not the only way!) .
  2. I would also agree with you that the current RN escort designs are not 100% optimised in that regard – i.e. the Navy is are not squeezing the most aviation capability out of their existing hulls. Thus, as you rightly say, the Japanese are definitely ahead of us on that one! (I would add “not for the first time are the Jap’s ahead of us with their ship designs: that goes right back to the Dreadnought era!”)
  3. We can also agree that putting more FAA helicopters onto RFA ships would be very advantageous…….. Therefore it is “quite interesting” that the best example of the usefulness of RFA’s for deep-ocean ASW is the only one you have forgotten to mention!
  4. Both the oldest, and also second-oldest, RFA’s still in service today are the TWO prize examples of precisely what I was advocating in my initial post.
  5. RFA’s Fort Victoria class, designed way back in the early 1980’s, was always originally conceived to be the “flagship” for each one, of several, large RN ASW groups patrolling the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans (however “centrepiece” would probably have been a better word than “flagship”).
  6. The original 1980’s operational concept was that a 1990’s RN ASW hunter-killer group would comprise 8no “then new” T23 frigates, thus with a full squadron of FAA Merlin’s, all supported by one Vicky-in-the-middle as a large multi-role LPH. The Fort Vic LPH was planned into the group mostly for aviation support: not least for all of the major aviation maintenance (such as regular engine swap’s on the squadron’s dozen large cabs).
  7. That key role, of an RFA being at the very centre of each big RN ASW deployment, is the very reason why the Fort Vic class were designed for carrying such a very large volume of stores (Fuel, ammo and many large boxes of Weetabix). It is also why the ship’s had such a large hanger and big flightdeck. The original design also had full provision for “fitting with” both a towed array tail and seawolf VLS (for self defence). However – simply because the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 – only two of the originally-planned class of six Fort Vic’s were ever built. Thus neither of the two ships that both (eventually) went into RFA operational service were ever actually used for their long-planned role at the very-centre of an RN ASW group. Thus neither seawolf nor the towed array were never fitted to either Fort Vic ship before they entered operational service (Note. Just like the many Type 23 frigates have never really been used in that same role either…..).
  8. For Argus, I am not overstating the case as to “how and why it was converted”. I should know, I did the some of the calculations for its conversion! The brief from the RN/RFA for that one-off ship conversion was, in essence, a very simple one (I am now paraphrasing). “RN want a RFA that can be used for at-sea aviation training with a layout that “closely mirrors” the Invincible’s deck lifts and hanger layout”. Thus the RN’s original operational plan for Argus (way back in the mid-1980’s) was that two of the three Invincible class carriers would always be deployed, both embarked with a full suite of fully-trained active aviation squadrons on board (Note. With the third carrier being in the dockyard, having its tea-break). Thus Argus was developed as COTS means of taking most of the basic FAA’s aviation training and deck landing qualification “flights” off both of those two operational carriers. Thus the one conversation was planned to add, very significantly, to the RN’s total at-sea aviation capability (i.e. because all the pilots onboard those two fully-operationally deployed carriers would all be fully qualified).
  9. However, once again, that extra aviation capability that the converted Argus thus gave to the RN fleet “as a whole” was scarcely ever used. The Berlin Wall came down only a year after the converted ship entered operational service. Argus was then very rapidly converted into a Primary Casually Ship during Gulf War One: mainly because it was the one and only ship then in RFA/RN service which had the internal space for fitting out what was, basically, a field hospital. That quick conversion happened almost overnight, only when it was suddenly realised that there was no significant capability for treating mass battle casualties out in the desert (and please remember that Saddam did have chemical weapons in Gulf War 1 (Note: they were never used))
  10. With regards to RFA Reliant, I am really glad you put that one up! That ship is the prize example of how and why scientifically-trained boffins should never be let loose anywhere near the practical engineering stuff (Note. The modular Arachnophobia system used on Reliant was conceived by the predecessors to DASA).
  11. The concept behind the RFA Reliant would have worked fine……..but for one little detail ……… had a very simple “shipbuilders steel-plated shelter / weather deck (with a portalised frame) been built over the foredeck, and a few big doors added in” = then that could have very easily been very successfully used as a very large helicopter hanger. Then the modular containers could have been slid inside underneath it (i.e. for workshops, spare parts stores, Biggles’ tea room etc).
  12. Unfortunately, instead of doing the VBO (Very Bleeding Obvious)….. the boffins decided to use the containers themselves as the ship’s weather deck (Which, as you quite-rightly say, was a disaster). There were a lot of jokes at that time about RFA Reliant; not least because Only Fools and Horses was just becoming very popular on the telly – and Del Boy drove a Reliant! At least one person I known suggested, because of the similarity, repainting RFA Reliant in bright yellow…….
  13. Thus RFA Reliant was a very good idea = but it was very badly implemented!
  14. Frankly, containerised pods could be and should be fine: but only if they are used for the “right stuff”
  15. However, getting the history out of the way; lets get back to the present day threat = two years after the latest war in Europe stated…,
  16. The very simple (hard) truth of the matter is that, as of today, the RN has very few escorts! Furthermore, many examples of what it still does have floating are collecting their Old Age Pensions down at Devonport. Thus your “plan” is not a plan: it is fantasy. The RN cannot put much extra ASW aviation out onto its escorts = simply because we don’t have anywhere like enough conventional escorts in the entire fleet.
  17. Furthermore that situation – with a lack of total RN escort numbers – will not get rectified anytime soon. Even if – and this next one is a very big IF – BAe (Clyde) and Babcock (Rosyth) are ever given follow-on orders from MOD for more Type 26’s and more Type 31’s (which must, at best, be a 50%/50% question), then it would take a full decade to get those “batch 2” extra ships built, commissioned and into full active service.
  18. With Mr V Putin having occupied the throne room in the Kremlin for far too long as it is, another decade is far too long for us taxpayers to wait for more conventional escorts to be built……
  19. Thus, for effective ASW capability in the deep oceans – which must now be RN’s number one priory for UK home defence – then they needs to be a radical rethink.
  20. The traditional ways for procurement (i.e. adopting DASA’s wishy-washy ideas) are simply far too slow to deliver effective ASW capability into active service….
  21. You are, frankly, greatly overstating the issues with merchant ship conversions:
  • Speaking here (next) in very general terms, the survivability of all merchant ships has greatly improved over the past forty years. This has happened because all of the ship classification societies have very significantly tightened up on all of their rules, especially for the initial design.
  • Very few merchant ships now sink (except when fired on near Yemen) and current day /modern commercial survivability standards (including water-tightness, fire and rescue) are “surprisingly good”.
  • The USN has regularly shown us – and I will now add “on a quite regular basis” – the inherent survivability of most modern merchant ship designs -when the USN got itself into the very bad habit of playing “dodgems” out in the Indo-Pacific region. Therefore, in several recent “close encounters of the third kind” it has been quite noticeable that the USN’s Sixth Fleet warship has often come off far worst than the (often innocent) merchant ship in any collision!
  • NL also extensively covered the loss of an almost-new Norwegian frigate a few years back. That was yet another example which, once again, showed that same key point (Final score in the fjord’s, a match played under floodlights: Merchant Ship 1 vis RNN Frigate 0).
  • Yes fuel and ammo storage are big issues: however again not insurmountable. Once again the commercial classification safety standards, especially for all types of fuel, are “surprisingly good”.
  • Furthermore, I must now add that the RN’s technical standards for firefighting, rescue and survivability etc have (frankly), not moved on “very much” since soon after the Falkland war (when there was very radical, and also very through, overhaul).
  • Thus this whole question of safety standards is , when all is said and done, often a classic case of tortoise (commercial) and hare (naval).
  • I would now ask if any modern RN warship can be fully classified to the very latest Lloyds Arctic classification standards (which came out earlier this year)?
  • I wasn’t advocating converting huge container ships at 350m long. Therefore I am not really sure why you imply that modern merchant ships are less agile. Most commercial ships, especially the coastal types, have bow trustors these days…..making them very manoeuvrable. In very marked contrast, the RN still needs tugs to get in and out of its own harbours (which is all “very old school” and “so very 20th Century”)
  • Finally, with regards to underwater noise, it must be said that no merchant ship is ever going to match the quietness of a totally-bespoke ASW naval hull. However the important question really needs to be asked: does an RN LPH need to be almost-silent? ………….
  • Firstly the ship’s many helicopters should be keeping Red October right away, far out at arms length!
  • Secondly, even if the enemy submarine does detect (at long range) any commercial ship’s acoustic signature; the sub’s skipper is still left with the key issue of then actually identifying it properly. The sixty-four million rouble question the Red Fleet enemy has to ask themselves is therefore “Is that acoustic signature I hear before me a very-deadly RN ASW LPH – carrying loads of torpedo-armed cabs – or is it an innocent cargo ship???? Therefore if I decide to fire at the second one: do I reveal my exact position?”

Therefore, to conclude. There are plenty of existing commercial ship designs (COTS), many in the ideally-sized 150-200m long class, that could easily and rapidly be converted into very useful LPH’s for the Royal Navy

  • Regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Well reasoned, and I would like to fully agree, but, just assuming (possibly incorrectly) that a conversion wouldn’t be fast enough to keep up with the CSG, I do wonder a bit whether supporting land-based Merlins with improved engines and range wouldn’t be just as good?

Separately, on your point 17, I also wonder – I had taken a look at T-31 and T-26 production and concluded one could reasonably speed both up a fair bit, given the ability to put together two ships simultaneously within the assembly halls (and indeed to start and finish them outside the halls)? (Although I agree with you that the chance of actually getting extra orders doesn’t look particularly brilliant).

Last edited 4 months ago by RAN

Very well-reasoned and thought-through, thanks Peter
I’m still wondering what you mean by “LPH”. The USN designation is for through-deck ships that also have the option for either Harrier or F35. Argus is very clearly not through-deck, it has that 1970s tower block on the front.
I think a through-deck “Aviation support vessel” in the 170m range would be a good idea for the myriad reasons you have outlined above. I hadn’t considered the “commercial noise signature” advantage, which helps additionally in peacetime as the Russians can’t just torpedo commercial ships.
So this would end up being essentially an offshore LPH, a “Helicopter escort carrier” that does ASW for deep ocean stuff. I would also suggest that, with such a useful platform, you give it a bit of a ramp bow so that you could use Mojave in a pinch for Houthi style operations with light striking and ISTAR needed. If not, you could always use a catapult for Vampire as a faster and more lightweight UAV.
I agree that large ferries would make the most useful platforms for conversion given that they are designed for stability in reasonably rough seas, so good for aviation. They are also more flexible than oilers or bulk carriers in being designed around “high capacity hull with stuff on top” rather than “pack the hull full”, which makes hangars harder.


The fastest and most effective way of increasing ASW assets is buying more Boeing P-8 Poseidons. Unlike the bodged surface solutions being suggested, there’s no risk of losing them to the submarines they’re hunting.


Agree with you re: more P-8s. However, there have been some developments in both Russia and Germany regarding possible submarine launched SAM capability. AFAIK it’s not operational yet but there has been some R&D in this direction.


Loving the reasoning and I’m close to being convinced, but I’m wondering what are your thoughts on crewing. If the Navy’s position is bad, the RFA’s is dire.

Also I wasn’t aware of the situation on Reliant. What do you think about Peregrine (S100 Camcopter) being run from a container off a B2 River? Would similar problems ensue?

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

There are plenty of existing commercial ship designs (COTS), many in the ideally-sized 150-200m long class, that could easily and rapidly be converted into very useful LPH’s for the Royal Navy

Some examples would illustrate your point.

As for Reliant you are saying, and this was mentioned at the time, that the system didn’t go further enough and the idea only worked if you basically began a proper conversion. Proper conversions are expensive to the point where a new build would have been better.

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As for noise others were pushing for these ships to sail indpendently with all manner of ASW sensor in the water. I pointed out that these hulls would be at the centre of the group.

Ignoring standards you don’t like isn’t a solution either re RN DC.

Last edited 4 months ago by Whale Island Zoo Keeper
Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


Replying to several “very good points” as follows:


  • I think that we should all agree (i.e. here on NL) that more RAF MPA aircraft should have originally been ordered a decade ago………..
  • However that option is now “ancient history”….
  • Frankly, we here in the UK are not going to be getting any more RAF Poseidon P-8’s “anytime soon”.
  • Boeing now have massive backlogs on their production runs for these aircraft (even Ryan-Air can’t buy them!).
  • Thus, even if ordered by MOD/RAF today, any new P-8’s would take several years to arrive here (i.e. same key problem of extended timescales as waiting for the boffins at DASA to have a few brainwaves..).
  • Furthermore, the P-8 flying from their home base in mainland Scotland (Lossiemouth) really doesn’t have the effective range needed for very long-duration extended-range searches far up into the Arctic Ocean (i.e. looking for red-painted SSBM’s hiding in bastions near the motherland…).
  • However (as Sean has rightly pointed out), flying machine’s do come in very useful later on in a search = but usually only after a “possible sub” has been detected. Then, any MPA such as a P-8 or any ASW helicopter (such as Mr Merlin) are really good at getting quickly out to the suspected acoustic contact, then localising it and identifying it (and (often) then killing it).
  • However that short burst of ariel aerobatic activity by the Biggle(s) gang only happens only after many many weeks of silent searching by ship-borne sonars.


  • As per my original post, ordering extra Merlin’s, with the very-latest go-faster engines, would be a very good idea (Can I suggest the possibility of these being ordered as a small part of the very-large Puma helicopter replacement programme (i.e. now in with the RAF MOD).
  • The other “interesting possibility”, one which nobody has mentioned is the possibility of extending the ranges of Merlin’s by air-to air refuelling. The Merlin Mk 3 in service at RAF Benson were all fitted with refuelling probes; which were removed when converted to RN Mk 4. It really would be a good idea to look in the waste bins out the back of Benson, to see those fuel probes could be refitted…..because it adds massively to the effective combat radius……
  • The idea of running ASW Merlin’s from land bases is a very good one
  • However, for many decades, the FAA has been very unwilling to flying anywhere north of the Watford Gap service station.
  • I have always though that was “quite-odd behaviour” – because all of the Russian (enemy) submarines are to be found north off the coast of Scotland, not off Lands end (I wonder:has somebody in the FAA confused John O’Grouts and Lands End?)
  • Therefore a few extra “stone frigates” in the North of Scotland might free up the need to send up a grey-painted frigate. May I suggest three:
  1. Kinross on the north coast, which is not only ideal for patrolling all of the northern sector of the North Sea around Scotland, it is only five miles by road from RAF Lossiemouth (home of the P-8 Poseidon’s) and i is also about twenty miles (as the crow flies) to the regular RN fleet anchorage at Invergorden (Note: Kinloss is an old RAF base, still with an excellent runway)
  2. Stornoway in the Western Islands
  3. Stromness the Shetland Islands
  4. (Both of these last two already have 24/7 MCA search and rescue helipads)
  • A really really sensible plan would be to base some RMC bootnecks at Kinloss (currently home to some Army engineers), so they can coordinate ariel manoeuvres with both the Fleet, and the RAF and the FAA (and, in their spare time, practice mountain climbing on a few Monroe’s (which are proper sized mountains….))

River Class deploying an smaller UAV’s

  • I am already “on the record” elsewhere on NL as saying that (obviously in my humble and very modest opinion….) that the River class are far too large to be a simple lightly-armed patrol ship (i.e. what Queen Vicky used to call a “gunboat”) and too small and under-armed to be used as a traditional frigate (or large corvette).
  • (Note, to date I have avoided calling the OPV’s C**p: but only just….)
  • I would be “interested” to see if trials of a contained medium sized UAV’s can be made to work
  • An ISO is only is 2.1m wide internally, so “probably” too tight.
  • Thus my gut feeling is that whilst one might just about store it in a container, that space will probably be too small for proper maintenance.
  • It would also be interesting to see if the OPV’s deck crew can wheel the UAV, on rolling and pitching ship’s deck, up those last 4 inches (that form the threshold “lip” just below the door on any ISO container!)

What is an LPH?

  • The sixty-four million dollar question!
  • Designations of helicopter platforms are very variable: even within the USN/USMC
  • For example USS America, the modified Wasp class, is designated an LHA.
  • I used the term here “very-generically”: so describing a warship carrying more than (say) half-a dozen whirlybirds.

Coordination with CSG

  • 20 knots for a LPH should be fine, simply because the reality is that any aircraft carrier only normally does 30 knots in quite-short bursts (i.e. when turned into the wind just for flying ops)
  • What nobody has mentioned is that a simple LPH would be highly-complementary to the Carrier Strike Group. Thus a “nearby” LPH would allow the separation of most fixed-wing and rotary-wing flying onto two different ships (Note: These flight ops often operate at very-different tempo’s).
  • Thus the one (or two!) QE carrier’s could become very focused on their fixed-wing ops, leaving most of the rotary-wing operations on the nearby LPH. Thus the “simple LPH” could do most or all of the following taskings within the CSG:
  • ASW (using Mk2 Merlin’s)
  • AEW (using Crow’s-nest)
  • Air-sea rescue (for all new members of the F-35 goldfish club flying off QE and POW (currently, due to late F-35 deliveries, only 1no))
  • VERTREP (using Mk 4 merlin’s)
  • MITL (using Mk 4 merlin’s)
  • JRP (using Mk 4 merlin’s and a well-oiled team of Bootnecks)
  • etc etc

ASW Hunter-Killer Groups

  • I had through it to be “fairly obvious” that the primary deployment I was initially talking about was an LPH as one of a few ships comprising a small’ish RN ASW hunter killer group.
  • It also ough to be remembered what I said in my first post = that the really hard part in finding any submarine in the first place is the long waiting game!
  • In practice, the very-boring reality of much ASW work is that leading senior rate Mr B. Ears (entombed down in the ship’s grey painted ops room) is listening to nothing very interesting, except maybe occasionally two moby-dicks humping, for many weeks on end…..before catching “a whisper”
  • Thus I believe that this ASW concept would work best with one LPH and just a couple of frigates = not least such that at least one frigate and the LPH can then triangulate any “suspected” Red October with two coordinated ship’s towed sonars.
  • That triangulation with two (or more) towed sonars is the best way to accurately fix any sub’s position; especially out at long range (say anything over 50 miles). (Note. In contrast, air-dropped sonar-bouys only really work well at much-shorter ranges).
  • Then, once a “pretty-good” fix has been obtained by the two ship’s tails, only then is the right time to order out several stingray-armed and sonar-buoy carrying cabs = to localise it and then quickly fix it (i.e. once and for all!)
  • Thus it is precisely this sort of situation – the rush to catch the submarine before losing the “always-tenuous” initial acoustic trace – is when the use of this LPH (with several helicopters onboard) massively scores one-up over the use any traditional frigate (i.e. one ship with only one cab).
  • Thus, all in all, when a sub is first detected at long range, the commander’s option of getting several cabs airborne very quickly from an RN/RFA LPH therefore very dramatically reduces the odds that BetFred will give on Red October’s captain eating tomorrow morning’s breakfast.. ..

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


Ryanair are waiting for the much troubled 737 Max aircraft; yet another reason to avoid flying with them!!
The P-8 Poseidon is based in a different aircraft, the 737-800ERX, which is a 737-800 but with 737-900 wings, 767-400ER winglets, additional structural strengthening for the bomb bay, double the electricity generation, new engine nacelles, more bank manoeuvrability, etc.
The P-8 has a range of over 2,000km with up to 4 hours on station. Unfortunately they come with the USAF boom refuelling system, rather than the probe system used be the USN and RAF. So to extend range we would need to call upon NATO allies (same issue with F-35A variant).

Build time would be an issue, so a faster solution to expand ASW operations would be purchase of the MQ-9B SeaGuardian. As the RAF already fly the Protector RG MK 1 (aka MQ-9B) there is existing support and flying experience for this type of drone.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sean
Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


All of your technical details are all “fair comment”.


  1. Boeing’s very late deliveries of most of their models of planes are now “right across the board”: i.e. their production delays are not just on any one particular model. Therefore, Boeing would certainly not promise that a small order (i.e. say 3no more P-8’s for the RAF) would be delivered at the expense of holding-up many much-larger existing orders (i.e. those which have already been committed to by the big airlines).
  2. An unrefuelled range of 2,000km is simply not, without regular air-to-air refuelling, enough for long-haul RAF excursions up to see Santa Claus and the quite-spectacular Northern lightshow.
  • That is why RN ships will still be need for ASW up in the Far North and, furthermore, why something “useful” needs to be procured quickly.

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

PS Ryanair are hypocrites for moaning abut Boeing being late!

On the (few) occasions I have flown with them, they have a 100% record = always staring off late and always a delay of more than an hour! I think they quite-deliberately forget to change their clocks (move them forward by an hour) in the springtime….


Peter, you’ve convinced me that an LPH could certainly be a new STUFT, and the slow speed wouldn’t matter too much for it to still be relevant within a CSG.

But considering the strained defence budget, for ASW it would still seem more fiscally practical to get Iceland, Denmark (for Greenland and the Faroes), and Norway to spend some of their increasing defence budgets on helicopter bases, and for everyone in the GIUKN gap to order new Merlin/AW 101 Mk 5s/6s (with the Safran Aneto engines, Martlet LMMs, and refueling probes you suggest) to form a new NATO Air Wing. (The Baltic countries could also form a sister Air Wing, with exchanges between the two).

Meanwhile, if we want to find the budget to retain/expand our LPD/ASW capacity in the long term (and make up for the probable delay in the MRSS), the best option, both financially and diplomatically, is to use the c. £25 bn of Russian assets as the planned collateral for UK-guaranteed bonds to fund a naval aid programme budget.

Building on earlier discussion, if we planned to gift Ukraine with a raiding fleet (c. 2027-2029) centred around the first of a new LPD to an existing design, like the Trieste or Wasp class, escorted by the RFA Argus, to Ukraine (with other equipment and escorts previously noted in the footnote below) then the RFA Argus could be replaced in Royal Navy Service (as an emergency requirement) with the second of the new LPD class.

That would seem much more useful than an unfunded c. 15-25,000 ton STUFT we’re otherwise looking at?

Such an aid programme would fund the improved Merlins as replacements for the RAF, and could also make available extra Towed Arrays from the T23s for the T31s. Furthermore a third and possibly fourth ship of the LPD class could subsequently be ordered relatively cheaply, to replace the Albion class in the 2030s, in lieue of the likely much smaller and delayed MRSS.

You mention the OPVs; I wonder about the attached designs (which I have endeavoured to improve over those previously floated in NL)?


(fn) As noted elsewhere in the comments, for ease of reference:
Because ships cannot physically get to the Black Sea under the Straits Convention to be delivered to Ukraine, delivery can be delayed while the Ukrainian crew are trained, and the ships can be loaned back to Royal Navy command (for escort duty, diplomatic port visits, and aid delivery) until the war finishes, or Ukraine spots an opportunity to use them, e.g. oil-tanker interception/blockade, and/or commando operations e.g. in the Sea of Otkhotsk. 
If Ukraine loses the war in the meantime, the fleet of ships can remain as assets of the Ukrainian government-in-exile, manned by Ukrainians, loaned back to Royal Navy command. 
Equipment and escorts required by this naval aid funded fleet include: 
24+ retiring/new Merlin helicopters with 200+ Martlet LMMs (being replaced by new Merlin Mk 5s-6s with Safran Aneto engines, refuelling probes, and LMMs),
36+ retiring Harrier IIs upgraded with Mk0 Captor Radar from retiring Eurofighters (being replaced in RAF service with the Mk2 Radar to maintain operational secrecy), and 200+ Meteors (replaced for the RAF by JNAAMs), AGM-88, and 100+ Paveways,
1 T45 (to be replaced by a modified Sylver VLS/CEAFAR Hunter-class T26, e.g. laid down in 2027 following the acceleration of HMS Newcastle by 6 months),
3-4 retiring T23s (with new towed sonar arrays, so that the Royal Navy T31s can use the surplus arrays),
2-3 new T31s (with new towed sonar arrays),
3-5 OPVs (attached Batch III Refit, preferably replaced for the Royal Navy by the Batch IV)
(The fleet would further be aided by NATO Naval Intelligence as required).
Note the T45 replacement T26 variant would help fill the impending Destroyer gap, and the altered design could be ordered to increase Destroyer numbers after the T26 frigate run is complete.

Last edited 4 months ago by RAN
Toby J

Guilty as charged for having TAS, I suppose, but I still think having at least the option for these to sail independently would be worthwhile. To be to the America class what the QEs are to the Fords; cheaper, lighter, more flexible. In Europe there are a prevalence of roughly 120m “Support vessels” largely for drones of all types, but most include a lot of aviation kit and these designs would make sense for us to act as the centre of a task group and as a sort of heavy OPV the rest of the time. Say in the 150m class with a stern ramp, through deck and hangar, a big crane and maybe even RAS rigs to support the rest of the group (probably a T26 and a T31 or T26 and MRSS), for which it also provides a large flight deck and plenty of hangar/vehicle space.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

You are not guilty of anything you silly sausage. 🙂

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Whale Island Zookeeper

Replying to your two very-valid points about the costs of creating spaces and the need for good damage control:


Creating this type of large and open space is often very cheap when building or converting any ship of any type. However that last comment is made always assuming that the one key engineering principle has been applied = “to keep it simple”

Creating large “volumetric spaces” is structurally relatively easy…….

(Note: always assuming that one is not adding on too much topweight and thus adversely affecting the ship’s stability! (for example the Bay class need “very lightweight helicopter hangers”))

To give you just three, very-simple, possible examples (Note. These examples have been deliberately chosen to use some ship’s “already-well-known to NL readers”):

  • On the now long-gone (and, it has to be said “best forgotten”) RFA Reliant, creating a very simple hanger at the bow end, say 30m long by 25m wide (i.e. fully the width of the ship’s overall beam) – using nothing more complex than half-inch flat steel plating laid, and all welded-up, over a clear-span portalised steel frame. That would have very quickly created a generous amount of very-easily-used space (all with a headroom of say about 7m). Two large doors openings, with doors facing aft, would be needed to access in and out onto the amidships helideck. Hey presto, one large hanger and thus a quickly-useable LPH.
  • Very similarly, on the more modern Point Class. The Points as-built already have the “makings” of a “simple helo hanger” at the bow. However, as originally built, that was only ever designed as a “spray hood”; intended just to stop vehicles stowed on the top deck getting very wet in a heavy sea. However there is no good reason why this shelter could not be extended aft (by lets say an extra 10m) and a pair of large doors added in. Hey presto, once again one creates a large enclosed space, which could be used as instant LPH helicopter hanger at the bow (and which could, on many other occasions, also be used for stowing more high-value stores).
  • Alternatively, on the Points, under the ship’s existing bridge and accommodation block (which is a clear span right across and clear over the top vehicle deck), just add in two bulkheads; to separate off that area (i.e. using the bridge as the “hanger roof”).

Now, I want to be clear that am not suggesting that any of these three examples I have just given above are now actually be built/converted.
However, all three are very good examples of what types of ship could possibly be quickly and simply, and thus very cheaply, be converted into a “simple LPH”

However, what would become very expensive, on both civvy street and especially in the Navy Dockyard at Devonport, is when any ship conversion becomes “both very complex, customised and bespoke”.

It is only when complex structural modifications are made and/or when ship’s interiors are densely fitted-out internally – especially with all of the “custom-made one-off kit only ever purchased by the Navy” – then total costs will sky-rocket.

So, going back to my earlier example of Argus. What cost most of the taxpayers money (and especially built time) during that ship’s initial 1980’s conversation was improving the ship’s stability (mainly to compensate for the block of flats being built at the front); adding in the horrendously structurally complex aircraft lifts and finally sub-dividing the huge hanger (on the old lower deck) against fire and flooding (with those massive doors)

Damage Control

With regards to damage control, I was not belittling for a minute the need for damage control on an LPH. Warships, and indeed RFA’s, should be designed to take what used to be called “battle-damage”.

Admiral Tirpitz said: “the first duty or warship is to stay afloat…..

However, you would be surprised that, in many important regards, the modern RFA’s (i.e. Tide class) are, for most practical purposes, “not that far removed” from warships with regards to many of the key principles of stability, damage control and life-saving equipment, thus protecting their crews.

What I was clearly suggesting in my post is that Royal Navy’s Damage Control standards – if and when ever used on a LPH COTS conversion – would frankly need to be “applied with some care”

Also, if one is being brutally frank and honest here, the Navy’s own standards are now getting more than a bit past-their-best-before-date . That has happened simply because we have not had a big shooting match since 1982! Therefore there has not been a “need” to review, right from first engineering principles, any RN safety and damage control standards applied over the past four decades.

Three examples:

Internal Fire Doors

Todays RN “best practice” – of routinely driving Grey Funnel Cruise Liners around the high seas with all of their internal fire doors clipped wide-open – seems to me to be “very old hat”….(sorry, here on NL, I must call get into the habit of calling those vital fire doors ‘atches (note; often spelt with an “h”)).

On many modern cruise ships, and especially on hazardous offshore rigs, these fire doors will be initially specified by the ship designers to be tested up to a specific fire rating; and they would also be also always be kept shut out at sea.


In civvy street, many commercial ships carrying hazardous cargos are now equipped with far better means of escape for their crews than any RN warship now floating……

I can buy, off the shelf, standard commercial free-fall lifeboats that are fully-enclosed and have fully-fitted harnessed-seats throughout. These can be specified to be additionally classified to be Arctic-fuel-fired rated = so they can drive away from the sinking ship through a sea of burning fuel and still the crew survives….and then they can stay warm and sheltered inside it, in very hostile seas areas, for many days (Note The German company Palfinger have an excellent range)

However, in very-marked contrast, the RN specially developed – especially just for the two QE class carriers – a brand new series of BKBC-inspired (note1) life-saving gear (i.e. long escape chutes and huge over-sized liferafts). These bespoke items were developed at vast cost to us taxpayers! So, we ask, why did they bother?

Frankly, if I was a crew member on a burning and stricken QE carrier, I would really not rate my chances of survival very highly if one of those BKBC inspired chutes and life rafts was deployed into a cold and rough sea: especially with burning aviation fuel floating all around the stricken carrier! Even if the crew of the carrier did all get into their liferafts, their chances of survival for more than a few hours up in the rough sea above the Arctic Circle would be pretty limited!

Freefall lifeboats, built to the right standard (i.e. Arctic/Fuel/Fire) would have been a much better choice!

Containers (modular PODS)

With regards to modular containers (or PODS as they are now labelled). Once again the “stuck-in-their-old-traditional ways” RN leadership seems to be totally fixated with using conventional ISO steel-box containers.

There are many far-better alternatives already out there in the market.

Once again, out on civvy-street, I can go out any buy off-the-shelf fully tested and certified containers (aka modular POS) that are already fully tested for protection against a severe fuel fire (i.e. “classification society rated”).

These are regularly used for depoyment on oil and gas rigs. Inside these COTS units – delivered to any shipyard already fully-fitted out with all the accommodation, utilities and furniture complete – can be a mix of canteens, washrooms, dormitory’s, laboratories etc etc.

Thus many oil and gas rigs are now constructed as a skeleton: the central core of the very-highly-inflammable process plant and equipment being surrounded by many dozen fire-rated modular accommodation modules/pods.

Those COTS PODS are all built to every much higher modern safety standard for damage control than anything currently afoot (or afloat) which has been built to any current RN Damage Control standard(s)

Any one of those COTS accommodation PODS which has been tested and certified for a oil/gas rig fire (i.e. Norsk) will last far longer during any raging inferno than the RN’s very-traditional steel bulkheads and grey paint (and thus it will better protect the crew, which is what it is all about…)


The key reason for this attention to COTS damage control, especially controlling fire and blast, is very simple. Preventing accidents (and also pollution) in the commercial sector is nowadays given an awful lot of engineering thought. Thus, a lot of very detailed design goes into both preventing accidents and also ensuring that, if the very worst does unexpectedly happen, then the crew can escape to safety.

All in all, that good all-round engineering best practice makes commercial good sense; simply because it keeps the owner’s annual insurance premium down!

To conclude. These days, the commercial sector is often far ahead of the old-school Royal Navy = especially with what you seem think happens with the COTS damage control and rescue!

Regards Peter (Irate taxpayer)

Note 1. BKBC = Big Kids Bouncy Castle

Toby J

Nah, I’m SailorBoy’s other account


Looks like the cutting of undersea cables is definitely here as a tactic


Conspiracy feeding again ? Deliberate cuts LOL
These things are always found to be done in shipping channels or fishing vessels.


Says Mr Flat-Earth…


The earth is round, climate is changing, vaccines save lives, Ukraine blew up Nordstream undersea cables are almost entirely accidental,
All based on evidence.